SEATTLE, WA (February 15, 2010) – Two funeral services will be conducted today for retired Evangelical Covenant Church Pastor and Executive Secretary Emeritus of Christian Education Aaron Markuson, 99, who died Friday.
The first service will take place at 3:30 p.m. today at Covenant Shores Retirement Community on Mercer Island, Washington. The second service will be conducted at 6:30 p.m. this evening at First Covenant Church in Seattle.
“Aaron was a courageous, forward-thinking leader who prioritized the discipleship of youth and young adults,” said Doreen Olson, executive minister of the Department of Christian Formation. “Out of his strong advocacy for youth came the spiritual growth event we call CHIC. To this day, CHIC continues to call youth to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and challenges them toward growing ever deeper in Christ and further in his kingdom mission.”
Markuson was born September 1, 1910, in Rockford, Illinois, where he grew up attending First Covenant Church. The son of immigrants, he grew up speaking English at home because his parents did not want him to be known as a “Green Swede.”
Even as a teenager, he became the Sunday school teacher of boys just several years younger than himself. Two of his students were Harold “Yank” Swanson, who later became the football coach at North Park College, and Earl Dahlstrom, who became a professor at North Park Theological Seminary.
He married Margaret Gusarson May 18, 1940, in Brandon, South Dakota. She survives.
Markuson graduated from North Park Theological Seminary in 1937 and began serving Winnetka Covenant Church in Wilmette, Illinois, where he served as pastor until 1942. The congregation of 40 people was comprised of mostly Swedish women who worked as kitchen maids in local homes. Services were held on Sunday evenings because most of the women worked during the morning hours.
In the Fall 2004 issue of Pietisten magazine, Bob Bach wrote, “North Park students served as Sunday school teachers and helpers. So Markuson and his wife, Margaret, would drive to North Park, pick up the students, and drive them back after the services.”
Markuson served at Cambridge Covenant Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 1942-1951. The Covenant Hymnal Commission was working on a new hymnal during this time and Elmer Westlund, the choir director at Cambridge Covenant Church and a commission member, asked Markuson to translate some of the heritage Swedish hymns, including “Why Should I Be Anxious.”
In 1951, Aaron accepted the Covenant’s call to become executive secretary of youth ministry. For the next 19 years he organized and directed the national efforts of Covenant churches in areas of youth and education. This department later became known as the Department of Christian Education.
In 1970, he was called to Bethany Covenant Church in Minneapolis where he served until his retirement in 1975.
Following his retirement, he served several interim pastorates. In 1982, he became the first chaplain at Covenant Shores Retirement Community on Mercer Island, Washington. He commuted from Vashon Island by ferry to initiate this program for residents at the Shores.
Covenant News Service will publish more information as it becomes available.